A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this software makes the VSmile and the VSmile Pocket systems accessible to preschoolers. Its gameplay is simple and it does an excellent job of teaching early learning concepts (such as letters and counting).
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What's it about?
In ELMO'S WORLD: ELMO'S BIG DISCOVERIES for the VSmile gaming systems, kids join Elmo in exploring eight educational activities presented in two modes: as Learning Adventures or as games in the Learning Zone. The activities can be played on two levels of difficulty.
The Learning Adventures transport kids to four locations -- a barnyard, a circus, underwater, and a music hall -- where kids play games with Elmo and the silly Mr. Noodle. For example, in the barnyard, an animal is hiding but making a sound; kids are presented with four animals, each with a different colored button underneath. Kids choose the animal that made the sound by pressing the colored button, and then Elmo then teaches kids the beginning letter of the animal's name. The Learning Zone games cover the same concepts but use the VSmile's four colored buttons to create multiple-choice questions.
Is it any good?
This software works so well with preschoolers because Elmo is a great teacher of both game mechanics and educational concepts. Elmo responds to every button pushed on the VSmile controller -- he will move, giggle, dance and do silly stuff. Elmo never makes kids feel they have failed; when they provide a wrong answer, Elmo simply tells them to try again. A "Help" button triggers Elmo to more fully explain how to find the correct answer.
Elmo's high squeaky voice is sometimes hard to understand and his lip-syncing is off. And unlike the L-Max games (VSmile's competition), when this game is played on the VSmile Pocket while plugged into a TV, the handheld controller does not show a picture. Showing a picture on the handheld makes it easier for a child to figure out which button to push. But this game is still an excellent way to introduce preschoolers to educational activities in a gaming setting.
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